Thirteen-year-old Otaru business, Ishikawa Genzo Shoten restored as a standing bar

The Ishikawa Genzo Shoten building
Ishikawa Yoshinori, who set about rekindling the mood of the store

Ishikawa Genzo Shoten, a long-established sake retailer, which was established in 1891 and closed-down eight years ago, has been ‘revived’ as a standing bar. The owner, Ishikawa Yoshinori became aware of the historical value and charm of his family’s store and returned to Otaru after retiring from a major automobile manufacturer, to become the fourth-generation proprietor. The building is 85 years old, and Ishikawa hopes to rekindle the retro atmosphere of the store and “attract people who love the history of Otaru.”
Ishikawa Genzo Shoten opened in the Nobuka-cho district of the city as the Otaru branch of a miso and soy sauce brewing company in Niigata Prefecture, which had been in business since the Edo period (1603-1868). The shop moved to its current premises in 1897. Since the 1980s, the store had focused on retailing sake and also featured a standing drinking counter. However, due to declining sales as large stores moved into the area, and the ageing of Ishikawa’s (now late) father, the store closed in February 2014.
Just before the store closed, Yoshinori – who worked for Honda, a major automobile manufacturer – was shown a book of photos by his father, documenting the history of Otaru. At the end of the book, the store featured prominently, and its history was introduced in detail.
Ishikawa was inspired by the shop’s history and decided to take it over. After retiring in October 2020, he began preparations to run the establishment as a standing-counter bar that can be operated by one person, and opened it in January of this year.

The counter in the store was used until eight years ago, and Ishikawa has decorated the establishment with a chronological record of the store that he compiled himself, as well as old banknotes that were left in the store, and a picture of the company’s old factory in the Nagahashi district of Otaru. “I was surprised to see how many treasures were left. I wanted to bring back to life the old mood of the building, including the exterior. I hope that many people will enjoy the shop and, in the future, I hope to try my hand at making miso, which was my family’s business,” says Ishikawa.
The shop opens from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. but is closed on Tuesdays. The selection of alcohol is centered around products related to Otaru and the Shiribeshi region. The sake is produced by Kamikawa Taisetsu Sake Brewery, the wine is produced in the Shiribeshi region, and products from the Iwanohara Vineyard, which is headed by Kanda Kazuaki, a native of Otaru, are also available.


Ishikawa Genzo Shoten